How to make bagels: Let the Bagel Dough Spin

by Christy

This post is inspired by Melanie’s ration day challenge (creating a delicious treat with few ingredients–and yes,  I hope Melanie’s dad will be proud). And, it’s also inspired by the text of our first post (How can we talk about Let the Great World Spin without mentioning it’s most compelling character, the City herself, and without discussing one of the most delicious, must-have, tastes of the NYC?)

Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin is an inspiring American story that provides a snapshot of life for ten New York residents as their worlds intertwine on the streets below the a tightrope walker, dancing on a wire suspended between the World Trade Center Towers in 1974.

me in Times Square ( is freezing in January!)

I visited New York once, and unfortunately it was after 9/11, so I never had the chance to see the World Trade Center Towers in life, but McCann’s account of that day in 1974, gave me a different perspective of the twin towers, one of possibility and hope, even amidst the turmoil our country was facing at that time with the nearing end of the Vietnam War, the Watergate Scandal, and the battles for equality on our home turf. On a lighter note, the book reminded me of one of my favorite elements of my weekend trip to the Big Apple—eating a delicious, fresh baked, New York Style bagel—a quintessential New York experience.

Since that trip, I’ve desired to re-create the bagel experience, and, though my bagel making exploits have been far from perfect, I think I’ve developed a deceptively simple method of creation, even if I still haven’t perfected the shape (Yes, they do tend to be lop-sided, but the original bagel, originating from Poland in 1683 wasn’t meant to be a perfect circle shape either!). With very basic ingredients, flour, water, salt, yeast, and a splash of sugar (to create that shining surface as the bagel boils), you, too, can enjoy the chewy, round, bread tidbits. Of course, the aromas emanating from the oven and the praise you’ll receive from satisfied eaters are additional incentives for serving this bread product enjoyed all over the world.

The bagel-making process is in 4 basic parts:

  1. making the dough, letting it rise
  2. boiling the bagel dough shapes
  3. glazing the bagels and adding toppings
  4. baking the bagels

What you’ll need: (makes 8 bagels)

Bagel dough

1 cup of water (sometimes I have to add an extra ¼ cup of water)

1 ½ Tbl  sugar

1 Tsp salt

3 cups  bread flour (I like Pillsbury)

2 ¼ tsp  active dry yeast (the packets work best)


1 egg, beaten

Toppings (optional)

Sesame seeds, onion flakes, pesto, poppy seeds, garlic

Step 1: Making the Dough

  1. Mix the water, yeast and sugar in a measuring cup (the sugar is food for the yeast), and pour the mixture into a large bowl.
  2. Add the flour and salt.
  3. Mix the dough until it forms a sticky ball.
  4. Knead the dough (you can lay it on a lightly floured surface), for approximately 7 to 10 minutes, or until it is thoroughly blended and consistent.
  5. Form a ball, and place the dough back into the bowl. Cover it, and put it in a warm location (I like to set it on the table in front of a window with sun shining through).
  6. Let the dough rise for approximately 1 hour.
  7. After it has risen, punch it down, and knead it briefly.
  8. Place it on a lightly floured surface. Divide it into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a small ball, making a hole in the center of each. Gently pull the sides of the hole to make a one-inch hole (you might even make it larger).
  9. Place the bagel shapes on a greased baking sheet. Cover, and let them rise in a warm place for another 20-30 minutes, or until they double in size.

Step 2: Boiling the Bagels

  1. In a 3-quart saucepan, bring to boil 2 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons of sugar.
  2. Place 2 to 3 bagels in the boiling water at a time. Simmer the bagels for 3 minutes, turning once.
  3. Remove the bagels with a slotted spoon and place them back on the greased baking sheet.

Step 3: Glazing the Bagels (optional)

  1. Brush with a beaten egg.
  2. Sprinkle with your choice of topping

(Even if you don’t put toppings on the bagel, I would recommend glazing them. It’s not necessary, but it gives the bagel that familiar, crisp outer coating.)

Step 4: Baking the bagels

  1. Bake at 400ْ  F/205ْ  C for 20-25 minutes, or until done.
  2. Cool on a wire rack.

About melanieandchristy

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This entry was posted in 5 ingredients or less, Breads, Let the Great World Spin, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to How to make bagels: Let the Bagel Dough Spin

  1. planzone says:

    Thanks for sharing! I’ve been wanting to try making my own bagels and this has inspired me!

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